Periodontal Disease is a Concern for Arthritis Patients

A 2008 study by researchers in Berlin, Germany shows that periodontal disease is more prevalent in people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. The study was published in the Journal of Periodontology. Because arthritis can inhibit dexterity, the common inference is that rheumatoid arthritis patients may not sufficiently brush and floss their teeth daily, which allows plaque to build up. Plaque and calcified plaque (tartar) contribute to periodontal disease (gum disease).

Periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis are inflammatory diseases, meaning inflammation is a key factor in both diseases. Symptoms of inflammation include pain, heat, redness, swelling, and functional disability.

Experts have determined that, while inability to thoroughly brush and floss are certainly contributing factors, rheumatoid arthritis patients may develop gum disease for other reasons, such as they are both inflammatory diseases. Other studies show that inflammation links gum disease with increased risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke, and some believe that future research may prove that inflammation is to blame for the association between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Since we know that there is increased potential for arthritis sufferers to develop periodontal disease, we can identify a few preventive measures that may reduce the risk.

Oral care with poor dexterity: Try an electric toothbrush instead of a manual brush. This will eliminate the need for the small, quick up and down strokes. The electric vibration will do most of the fine motor skills work. Also, use a handheld flosser instead of traditional dental floss. Disposable handheld flossers are inexpensive and easier to manipulate. If jaw joints and/or hands are afflicted, the arthritis patient may need assistance with daily oral care.

Dietary considerations to reduce inflammatory response: Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as oily fish, flax and pumpkin seeds, and canola oil, can help reduce inflammation in the body. Monounsaturated fats in olive oil, avocados, and nuts also help. The minerals, fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and phytochemicals in whole fruits and vegetables are good for inflammation reduction, as are lean poultry, fish, fatty fish, soy, and legumes. Plenty of water, herbal teas, milk, and fruit juices are also advised.

For more information on periodontal disease, prevention, and treatment, call D. Greg Seal Prosthodontics in Dallas at 214-361-0883. Dr. Seal is a prosthodontist, as well as a cosmetic and restorative dentist, serving patients in the North Dallas and Park Cities areas.
SOURCE:Researchers Uncover Higher Prevalence of Periodontal Disease in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients